The USCCB Administrative Committee begins a two-day meeting this morning. A lot has happened since the USCCB plenary in November, so the bishops have a full plate but the issue that has captured the attention of the entire nation, the HHS mandates, will undoubtedly garner the lion’s share of discussion.
It is clear that the President’s “accommodation,” announced on February 10, was an effort to assuage the concerns about conscience raised by the bishops and other Catholics, including many of the President’s supporters. And, it is also clear that in one regard, the accommodation works: Catholic institutions will not have to do anything regarding contraception coverage. They do not have to provide it nor refer employees to a different provider where they can get it. Yes, the vehicle the President proposed for delivering universal coverage for women is the institution’s health insurance company, and there is a federal mandate to provide an insurance plan, but there is also a Gospel mandate to provide insurance for workers at our Catholic institutions. In any event, I think the accommodation showed increased sensitivity by the White House to our concerns.